Opening Statement: Republican Leader Thompson on Majority's Partisan, Secretive Budget Reconciliation MeasureWed, 10 Feb 2021 16:14:49 CST
Opening remarks, as prepared, of Committee on Agriculture Republican Leader Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson (PA-15) from today’s markup of the Committee majority’s budget reconciliation measure:
“Mr. Chairman, it is with a measure of regret that we begin our tenure together marking up this reconciliation bill.
The members of the Ag Committee have long prided ourselves on our bipartisanship. We have worked together to find commonsense solutions to help agricultural producers, families in need, and both rural and urban communities. Unfortunately, today’s business charts a different course.
Rather than spending time to work with Republicans, the Democratic leadership in the House and Senate are abusing the reconciliation process to jam through a very narrow, partisan agenda with the barest of majorities.
Unfortunately, this flawed approach is now being adopted by this Committee. What we are marking up today was written behind closed doors; Republicans were cut out of the process. The first time we saw this $16 billion proposal was less than 48 hours ago.
Mr. Chairman, our members want to work with you-myself included-to craft a targeted package that responds to the crises facing our nation. But that effort must start by taking stock of our needs.
Over the past year, USDA has allocated more than $72 billion of assistance to hungry families, distressed producers, and shattered communities. And yet, USDA has obligated roughly 60% of the funds we have provided. To make matters worse, the Biden Administration has frozen the additional CFAP assistance that Congress provided in December.
I recently sent a letter to the Office of Management and Budget to clarify what funds remain unspent and why. Answering these basic questions is essential as we seek to provide additional assistance.
This Committee has not held a single hearing on USDA’s COVID response and the programs they have developed. We cannot fully account for what was spent and whether it was helpful. What’s worse, we don’t know what the new needs are and if we’re meeting them with this package today.
Just two weeks ago, President Biden reminded us that “With unity we can do great things. Important things. … We can overcome this deadly virus.” This week the House and Senate Leadership make no pretense to even the illusion of bipartisanship. The course has been set and half of Congress has been willfully and totally shut out.
The public deserves nothing less than a thorough, transparent, and bipartisan process on this legislation, to provide the right help to the right people in the right way. Instead, they will get a liberal wish list of partisan priorities, smuggled into law under the cover of reconciliation.
Mr. Chairman, I know you’ve been given your marching orders, but this process stinks. Not long ago, you and I committed to one another to work together to strengthen the Committee’s bipartisanship.
Let us together call on the Biden Administration to unfreeze CFAP to provide immediate assistance to farm families. Let’s work expeditiously to review current resources and needs. I stand ready to work with you, my members stand ready to work with your members. Please take us up on the offer.
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